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Hip Hop Family Tree Vol. 2 Review

Comic Books

Hip Hop Family Tree Vol. 2 Review

Volume 1 was perfect, could the sequel be even better? Stay tuned and find out, for HIP HOP FAMILY TREE VOL 2!!!

Hip Hop Family Tree Vol. 2 (Fantagraphics)

Hip Hop Family Tree Vol. 2 Review

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This volume? Just as good as the first! If Ed ever decides to do a slipcover high end ABSOLUTE HIP HOP, I think I’ll have to upgrade from my review PDFs to the real paper, because this series is 100% bookshelf quality.

We’re into the 1980’s now, and the art-form of hip-hop is still blending itself into the mainstream knowledge.

Hip Hop Family Tree Vol. 2 Review

When art expands, more people start to fill the new void, and as more and more audiences hear this music, there’s more opportunity for other artists to step up and make their own version. One of the most fascinating things in this issue is that this rush to join in on the cultural uprising means the various other street art cultures, like graffiti and breakdancing, are combining into a blend of pure American expression.

Ed does a great job of displaying how all these pieces are coming together, but he also stops to add in some small notes, like this fascinating piece:

Hip Hop Family Tree Vol. 2 Review

I’ve never once thought about how beat-boxing came about. Turns out, when you’ve got a group of people with the cash to buy speakers and equipment, that’s not going to stop the poorer folks who want to get involved. Doug E. Fresh’s beatboxing abilities more than make up for his lack of a drum machine, and unleash a new artform directly connected to the hip hop movement.

This volume also sees the rise of the more flamboyant and crazy groups, all trying to differentiate themselves from the crowd. While these crews are starting to populate the night clubs downtown, they’re bringing together fans, managers and rappers that will all have an impact over the next decade.

Hip Hop Family Tree Vol. 2 Review

The Beastie Boys make their debut in this volume as well, as a hardcore, “annoying teenage group,” that opens for many of the premier crews in their tours. Their evolution and young white experience are different from how most of these rap groups formed, showing hip hop’s expansion from the all-black basketball court parties to the more mainstream and larger stage of the United States.

Still, like any artform, that expansion brings more and more people into the mix–muddying the water and causing fans to look for the roots of the movement and the street level acts they were familiar with.

Enter Run DMC:

Hip Hop Family Tree Vol. 2 Review

Having had a front row seat to the entire beginning of the genre, when Run DMC hits the clubs and stages in their all black shell-toed glory, the crazy costumes and coordinated dancing looks cute in comparison. Foreshadowing the grunge backlash against hair bands, you see young b-boys choosing between this:

Hip Hop Family Tree Vol. 2 Review

And this:

Hip Hop Family Tree Vol. 2 Review

Pretty much no contest.

I liked this volume’s content slightly better than Vol. 1’s, but the unfolding story in the first is more compelling. Ed is still doing an amazing job with his aged artwork and slow plot expansion, but the beginning explosion is slightly more interesting than the finding its footing narrative.

Still, as a kid who was in elementary school in the 80’s, this volume is far more of my story, with the acts and the moments I remember very well happening during my childhood. Seeing this drawn out on paper, and recalling my own parents’ and friends’ reactions to this ever invading pop culture is fascinating. Comic books telling me about my own life?

10 out of 10 again. Ed’s work is historian quality, in a medium that is accessible to all.

Hip Hop Family Tree Vol. 2 Review
Hip Hop Family Tree Vol. 2
Is it good?
Ed's work on this series should be lauded and displayed as a example to both historians and comic artists. Just damn impressive.
Even if you don't like hip hop, this is a snapshot of our history you should all read
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